Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States of being hostile to Iran, arguing Sunday that American influence was preventing the full blossoming of Tehran’s financial sector.
“In Western countries and places which are under U.S. influence, our banking transactions and the repatriation of our funds from their banks face problems ... because [banks] fear the Americans,” Khamenei said in his remarks made for the Iranian new year known as Nowruz, Reuters reported. “The U.S. Treasury ... acts in such a way that big corporations, big institutions and big banks do not dare to come and deal with Iran.”
The religious leader is far more hard-line than Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was a key broker in last year’s historic nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington and other world powers. As part of the nuclear deal, some sanctions against Iran were lifted in January, paving the way for international business agreements to be signed.
The U.S. imposed additional sanctions on Tehran in January in response to Iranian ballistic missile tests that occurred after the agreement, but Iran carried out further tests this month, the BBC reported. Tehran has argued the missiles are to be used only as a deterrent in a volatile region.
“I am sure that with cooperation and effort inside the country, and constructive engagement with the world, our economy can bloom and develop,” Rouhani said. Rouhani, 67, and Khamenei, 76, differ in their level of skepticism toward the West. While the president made gains in Iran’s parliamentary elections in February, the religious leader has the power to block reforms.
Because of remaining American sanctions, European banks and some companies have been forced to stay away from the newly reopened market. Khamenei sat in front of a large banner that translates as “the year of the Resistance Economy: Action and Implementation” while delivering his remarks. The religious leader also touched on America’s presidential election, saying some candidates had chosen to “vilify” Iran. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has said he would repeal the Iran deal if elected.
Experts estimate Iran will need approximately $500 billion to modernize its infrastructure after years of economic sanctions, Bloomberg reported Sunday.